Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to announce Independent bid for Senate

Pat McMahon Contributor
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Multiple sources are reporting that Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida Republican, will announce Thursday that he will pursue his state’s open Senate seat as an Independent, leaving the Republican Party. According to the Miami Herald and FOX News, campaign insiders have confirmed that Crist will make a public statement at a 5 p.m. event in St. Petersburg, Fla.

For months, Crist has battled plummeting poll numbers as Republican rival Marco Rubio has surged due to support from conservatives and Tea Partiers. Though Crist initially denied reports that he would leave the GOP, he appeared to reverse course in recent weeks as Republican support and fundraising figures lagged. While originally seen by many as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Crist lost momentum following his public support of President Obama’s stimulus plan and veto of a GOP-backed education bill last week.

The dynamic of the race will be dramatically altered with the emergence of three major candidates. The Democratic frontrunner is Rep. Kendrick Meek. The most recent Rasmussen poll, conducted last week, has Rubio at 37 percent, Crist at 30 percent and Meek at 22 percent. Crist will face the challenge of raising money and running a campaign without the support system of a major political party.